Posted in Librarianing, professional development

SYNC 2022 is coming!

It’s been a minute since I wrote up a professional development post, so I’m excited that Sync is back and doing another year of free audiobooks for teens (and tweens) this summer. It’s simple: visit the Sync webpage on AudioFile Magazine’s website and sign up if you’re new to the program – if you’ve signed up before, they’ve got you, no worries. Sync Summer 2022 launches on April 28 with a fiction and nonfiction book; download them via the Sora app (if you’re new to the app, have your school info handy – your school, your special code if you have one) and check in every week for two new books!

The first two books for 2022 are…

BLACK PANTHER

Black Panther Tales from Wakanda

FOUR SHORT STORIES

Four Short Stories, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Parents – I tried logging into Sora with my parent login, and it worked! Enjoy a book or two with your kids!

Librarians and educators, AudioFile Magazine is a great resource for audiobook reviews. The Curated Lists are a great starting point for anyone who’s not sure where to stick a toe into the audiobook pool, and they have suggestions for kids and teens, with searchable age levels. They have a great list on Welcoming Audiobooks for folx new to the country, which I need to keep on hand here at the library to start booktalking and promoting to my families.

In short, AudioFile Magazine – great resource, so much to explore and start recommending to your audiobook families. Sync 2022 – free audiobooks all summer long through Sora!

 

Posted in Librarianing, professional development, programs, Summer Reading

Summer Scares is back!

It’s time to start planning Summer Reading already – I know, right? – and there are some great themes available: there is the Oceans of Possibilities theme, and there’s the Read Beyond the Beaten Path. For those readers that like the spookier side of life, I’m very excited that the Horror Writers Association is back with Summer Scares!

I don’t use Summer Scares as the sole Summer Reading program at my library, but I do promote it to give me that little extra, to reach all my readers at the library, because I have quite a few spooky/horror fans here (including me). This year’s Summer Scares Middle Grade offerings are fantastic:


Source: RA For All, Summer Scares FAQ and Resources, 3/1/2022

 

I’ve only read one of the YA offerings, Clown in a Cornfield, which I LOVED (and which is getting a sequel in August!); I’m looking forward to diving into these other selections:


Source: RA For All, Summer Scares FAQ and Resources, 3/1/2022

 

Info and resources are available on the RA for All: Horror blog, which is updated pretty regularly by Becky Spratford, who also writes the excellent RA for All blog. These are excellent Readers Advisory blogs that you should be subscribed to; Becky Spratford has great insights and puts up plenty of links for professional development.

Posted in Librarianing

This Week’s Grab-and-Go Kits: Basquiat and Lola’s Garden

I’ve gotten away from posting about grab-and-go kits, and that’s a shame because they’re such fun to work on. This week’s kits are thanks to my library’s programming group, making sure I’ve got supplies to play with.

The Teen/Middle School kit is inspired by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and Maya Angelou’s poem, Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, illustrated by Basquiat. The activity challenges readers to come up with their own book covers, with Basquiat’s art as a guide; kits have a pamphlet with ideas on how to create a Basquiat-like book cover, a brief bio on the artist, and links to more info. For the kit, I doubled up on supplies to give teens/tweens two covers (I don’t have a bustling teen area, so I created less kits). Each kit contains two sheets of art paper; a sheet of tissue paper; a glue stick, and 2 pastel sticks. I printed out a Basquiat crown on yellow cardstock and stuck them on each of the bags. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.

Today, I put together a craft kit inspired by Lola Plants a Garden, by Anna McQuinn. This one is for the little ones, and is an imaginative craft. The pieces are conceptual: there are 2 flat dowels, 5 cardboard geometric shapes, 4 clothespins, and 4 triangular paper cups. The instruction sheet includes HOT (Higher Order Thinking) questions and invites kids and families to use the pieces to create something that will help them plant or grow something. I took it in a slightly different direction, coloring in shapes, using the clothespin to attach them to the cups, so it looks like they’d put that out to identify what plants they’re growing. The dowels let them illustrate how they would scoop the dirt and plant their seeds. There are no wrong answers here; just creative thinking and hands-on imaginative play. I also included a little booklist of gardening books, fiction and non-fiction, English and Spanish, and I put a printout of the book’s cover on the bag.

We’re working on more grab-and-go kits, so I’ll keep them coming here. If you’ve got good ones to share, please do!

 

Posted in Librarianing

2021: It was the… okayest of times?

A lot of bloggers in LibraryLand have been blogging about the highs and lows for the year, and since I’ve been struggling, I feel like I should jump in and see if that jogs my creativity again. 2021 was not the light at the end of the tunnel that I’d hoped for, but it was better, because I got back to my library and my community. So there’s that. So without further ado, I present:

The Good

via GIPHY

I got back to my library and my community! It’s been such a relief to be back at my library home.

The return of in-person programming! It’s been slow but steady, but families are coming back for programming. We’ve been doing pop-up and grab-and-go programming, and families are staying in the library for a little longer each time.

Collection development! I got to buy books again, and it is wonderful!

I got to develop and innovate with my colleagues during our shutdown and staggered reopening.

 

The Meh

via GIPHY

Patrons who think it’s cool to verbally abuse front line staff. I’ve experienced a renaissance in patrons yelling, cursing, and attempting to throw things at me, and I know I am not alone here. I know we’re largely all stressed out these days, but folx, we’re here to help you.

Depression, anxiety, the blues, call it what you will, I’ve been getting pummeled with it harder than usual and it’s affecting my blogging schedule. For that, I apologize, and I’m hoping to find my smile on a more regular basis as we move into 2022.

Continued uncertainty: budgets, variants, political climates, social upheaval, it all makes for worrisome times.

 

So what’s next?

via GIPHY

So what’s next? For me, it’s getting back to writing things down to give my brain a break. It’s rediscovering my love of blogging and kidlit, and giving myself breaks, whether it’s actually using my time off or doing programming I enjoy. And continuing to keep a spark of hope for 2022.

Posted in Conferences & Events, Librarianing, professional development

Signal Boost: Submit a Proposal to Host Jason Reynolds in Spring 2022

Today’s a big news day, huh? Just on the heels of my post about the Kids’ Book Awards Finalists, Every Child a Reader announced that not only is Jason Reynolds extending his term as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for an additional year, but that they are accepting proposal submissions from schools interesting in hosting an event with Mr. Reynolds! Events are likely to be held in April/May 2022, as Mr. Reynolds will be holding in-person events. The press release is here and you can read full details on the Every Child a Reader website.

If you’re not a school library, please consider getting in touch with schools nearby and collaborate with them on submitting a proposal. Other criteria, from Every Child a Reader, are as follows:

  • Audience for events should be in the 5th-12th grade range.
  • The location should have a system in place for how they will select two student interviewees in advance of the event.
  • Jason’s goal for the Ambassadorship is to visit small, underserved communities that don’t often have the opportunity to host authors.
  • Events must be private/available to students only.
  • Please complete this google form with your event proposal no later than December 1, 2021.

Good luck!

Posted in Librarianing

This year, Banned Books Week is more important than ever.

I was planning on taking today off from the blog to get my next round of picture books ready to go, and then a friend and colleague sent me this article from Book Riot. The Central York, Pennsylvania school board has put in a wide-reaching ban on books – from picture books through YA – that are culturally relevant and embrace diversity. This list was originally created by the district’s diversity committee.

Some of the books on this list include Andrea Beaty’s Sofia Valdez, Future PrezAlexandra Penfold’s All Are Welcome; Matthew A. Cherry’s Hair Love, and Grace Lin’s A Big Mooncake for Little Star. Look at those books and tell me what makes these contentious, problematic, or scandalous, except for the fact that they target people of color. What about a book called All Are Welcome could possibly be an issue? The issue here is racism.

Another book on the list, A Boy Called Bat, by Elana K. Arnold, has a main character who appears to be on the autism spectrum. Banning this book sends a message every bit as dangerous. Is the school board in Central York, PA, suggesting that nonwhite, neurotypical characters and creators should not be put into children’s hands?

There is no apparent reason for any of these books to be on a banned list except for the glaringly obvious one. Is this truly the world we want to create for ALL children? Is this truly the world we want to live in ourselves?

Banned Books Week is coming up in less than two weeks. This year, it’s more important than ever to understand that our freedom to read is coming under attack Educate yourselves. Educate the families around you. Read broadly and encourage others to read different viewpoints.

You don’t have to love everything you read. You don’t have to agree with everything you read. But it is not on you, or on me, or on anyone, to tell others what they are forbidden to read. In a society where Mein Kampf remains on bookshelves but All Are Welcome isn’t, Banned Books Week is still necessary.

I’ll be making sure to keep reading and writing about books that represent the world I want to live in, and I’ll be working on displays for my library – I’d love to see yours, if you create some, too. You don’t need a library or a classroom, either: let your bookshelves show off who you are!

To view the Diversity Committee Resources, now banned by Central York, PA’s school district, click here. The equity list of banned books is here in Word format.

Time to get to reading and sharing, my friends.

Posted in Librarianing, professional development

Adventures in Canva: Romance Flyer

I know it’s not kidlit-related, but I made a thing and wanted to share! I’m still trying to play around with templates in Canva, so I tried my hand at a contemporary romance flyer that I can display at my little teller window at circulation. Here’s what I came up with:

I didn’t put in titles, QR codes, authors, because I want to keep it unfussy and hope it sparks conversation. If this works, I’ll give it a shot with some YA titles, some MG titles, and display them by our pick-up station, where patrons grab the books they requested. I’m trying to create opportunities for browsing in a space were we can’t browse for the moment, if that makes sense. Let me know what you think, please!

Posted in Librarianing

Padlet is ACES for RA!

Sorry about the mid-day posts these last few days. I’ve been in branch, and too wiped to write posts the night before. I’m working from home for the rest of the week, so I’ll be back to my scheduled flurry of posts during the day.

What’s up in the land of Professional Development? Well, I’ve discovered some more fun tools, thanks to the Library Voice blog. It’s primarily for school librarians, but I love exploring school librarian tools and lessons, because they have some great ideas. Sure enough, the Library Voice’s 25 Days of Digital Tools introduced me to some wonderful new toys to play with – and short videos on how librarians use them! The one I want to holler about today is Padlet. As a colleague put it, “It’s almost like Pinterest, without the ads”. It’s a virtual online bulletin board that you and your colleagues can share and work on together, like a Google Doc. This is fantastic for those of us in Readers Advisory, because how many times have you answered the phone or had a patron come in and ask for books, and have your mind go completely blank? I read over 200 books a year, but if a parent calls me and asks for picture books about dinosaurs, my brain resets to “567.9” or “How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?” What about the days when there’s no children’s librarian available and someone calls for RA? Having a padlet of booklists gives us the chance to collaborate on booklists with our colleagues and have RA at our fingertips when answering reference and RA questions in an area we may not be as knowledgeable about.

 

It’s free to start a Padlet, and you get three boards with your free account. Here, I’ve started my three: YA, Books for Grownups, and Children and Middle Grade Booklists. Once you establish your Padlets, you can add to each of them – and that’s where the fun begins.

 

 

Here’s a glimpse of my Children and Middle Grade Padlet. I can make any number of lists within the Padlet. Think of each Padlet as a binder, and within the binder, you have sections for each of your subjects. Here, in my Children’s and Middle Grade Padlet, I can make booklists with Arts & Crafts, Fun Facts, Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, and I can even deep dive into niche things like “Winter”, “Grandparents”, “First Day of School”, and more. You can add pictures, links, text, anything you want to make this resource yours.

I ran this by a few of my friends from our library system, and they loved it! So we’re collaborating on it together, and there are so many ideas, so many ways to work with this. I’m really looking forward to developing this over the next few months.

And now… I know I stick to kids and YA, but I’ll give you a sneak peek at my Romance padlet. Because I’m fairly new to Romancelandia, being a newish reader in the genre, and because everyone, EVERYONE loves Netflix’s Bridgerton, so you can expect to be getting a lot of calls and visits about readalikes (remember Downton Abbey?) I’ve started putting one together, so please forgive the patchiness – it’s in its fledgling stages.

 

Customize your background, how you want your info laid out, and share links for viewing and/or editing, all for free. Three Padlets gives you a lot of freedom to work, so you can get a real taste of it before thinking about whether you want to upgrade.

 

I haven’t started my YA one just yet – just created the list heads, so I’ll share when I have it a little more populated. You can also visit the Padlet Gallery to see other Padlets and get more ideas, and you can follow other Padlet folx! Very excited to play around and learn with this one. If you’re using Padlet, shoot me a link so I can see what you’ve got! You can find me here.

Posted in Librarianing

You CAN judge a book by its cover

I’ve been reading librarian Becky Spratford’s RA for All blog for a few months. She’s a horror fan – that’s how I found her blog – and she has some great Readers Advisory articles. Since RA is possibly my favorite part of librarianship, I get a lot out of her posts and I’ve started incorporating some of her ideas here. Today, I want to talk about book covers. Becky Spratford has some good posts on book covers; her Deep Dive Into Book Cover Design has links to interesting articles on book cover design, and her July post on making book covers work for us spoke to my soul.

See, I’m a merchandising fiend. When we were open to the public, I’d wander through my library shelves and put books that had great covers face-out, sure; I’d also put books face-out that needed some extra notice (read: low circ). I love making up displays with fun things to print out, and books to show off. Because in spite of the fact that we say we don’t want to judge books by their covers, we also say that a picture is worth a thousand words! A book cover is artwork, and we love to look at art. We’re largely a visual people, after all. Book covers appeal to visual learners, inviting them inside to see what lurks beneath the surface.

Even putting together my Bitmoji library, I put thought into book covers. I’m creating multiple displays, after all! Do I put new books down that the kids may not have seen, since we’re all under quarantine? Do I put down favorites that will bring them to the library website? Do I plop in a mixture of both? It’s a dance. (I ended up going with both established favorites and new books.)

Display your book covers proudly! Think of them like your own little art gallery, and invite others to enjoy them, too. You may pick up a few new readers along the way.

Posted in Librarianing

Librarian without a Library

Yesterday at noon, I locked the door on my library and headed home. It was a closing I fought for, but not a closing I wanted. We’ve all had our lives upended in the last few days. I’m home with my kids and my 74-year-old mom (one of the main reasons I pushed so hard for our library to close, like many of you), and feeling unmoored. I love what I do, and I love where I work. I worry about my library kids and their families, who rely on us to stay connected to one another, to their schoolwork, to books and technology they may not have the chance to enjoy otherwise.

For now, I’m a librarian without a library, but I do have my books to review, my games to play and talk about, and my kids to cuddle and enjoy what I’ve got. I’m creating, because that’s what I need to do to stay upbeat and sane. Gabe and I will be making some more videos – I’ve promised Candlewick that we’ll be turning in a review of Timmy Failure on Disney Plus – and I’ve got a mountain of books to review and read, not always in that order. I’ll be working on some booklists and programming to share, because that’s what I do. That’s what I love.

In the meantime, there are incredible authors and artists out there, virtual field trips, and free education plans and videos to watch with your kids. There are so many out there; here’s a bit of what I’ve shared on my Facebook page:

PETE THE CAT STORYTIME TODAY AT NOON ON FACEBOOK LIVE.

Daily Doodles with MO WILLEMS! 1pm at the Kennedy Center site!

Saint Patrick’s Day storytime with author Laura Murray, reading her book, The Gingerbread Man and the Leprechaun Loose at School, on YouTube.

StoryMarch sounds like so much fun. Make a piece of art every day, inspired by a keyword list. The next day’s prompt has to relate to the first. Post online with the hashtag #StoryMarch. It started yesterday, but I’ll be jumping in with Gabe today.

This one’s from 2018, but how can you get tired of astronauts reading from space?

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy has a daily shark storytime on Facebook Live at 10 am!

Oliver Jeffers will do a Facebook Live storytime at 2pm EDT every day!

The Cincinnati Zoo – home of Fiona the Hippo! – is holding a virtual safari, every day at 3pm EDT on Facebook Live, where they’ll spotlight one of their awesome animal friends, and include an activity we can do from home.

Dan Santat has printable badges in his Online Survival School for the Pandemic. I just earned my Social Distancing badge!

Gotta give love to my friends and my library system: Queens Library Kindness Readalouds.

Loads of education companies are offering free subscriptions to their services during this shutdown. ABC Mouse, Backpack Sciences, Dyslexia Academy, Minecraft Education Edition, and more are available. Here’s a list.

Head to Mars on a virtual field trip! Here’s a list of a bunch!

That’s what I’ve got, but there are so many out there. Just do some exploring, and don’t forget to utilize your library’s ebooks and audiobooks collections. Many also have access to magazines, music, and movies, so get some mileage out of those library cards.

Stay safe, and stay tuned. I’ll be writing more, I just need to get some books and themes lined up.